Can You Touch a Live Wire with Rubber Gloves?

Are you an electrician? 

Are you wondering how effective your rubber gloves are in preventing you from getting electrocuted? If you are just standing there, staring at a live wire and wondering if your rubber gloves will keep you safe, wait and take a few minutes to educate yourself by reading this article. 

Before you get into superhero mode and march on to touch a live wire, let us answer the most important question. Can you touch a live wire with rubber gloves?

Well the answer is yes and no, depending on the power flow through the wire. Let us delve a bit deeper into that statement to answer all your queries. 

Can You Touch a Live Wire with Rubber Gloves


Can you touch a live wire with rubber gloves? 

Let us just keep this out there, it is never safe to go on and touch a live wire. If you are not aware of how much power is flowing through the wire, and does not have proper safety gear, never ever attempt touching it.

Well if you are an electrician and has no other option than to touch that live wire, let us set aside that statutory warning and get to see if those protective rubber gloves would actually save you. 

A rubber glove, made of pure rubber, without any holes or tears can indeed keep you safe if the power through the wire is around 500 volts.

If you are dealing with greater volts then you have to use specialized rubber gloves, manufactured to withstand about 36000 volts.

Safety rubber gloves are classified into different categories based on the volts of electricity it can withstand. 

Class of Equipment Maximum Use Voltage (AC)
00 500
0 1000
1 7500
2 17000
3 26500
4 36000

But it is important to ensure that you have good quality rubber gloves, as there are a lot of fake rubber gloves available in the market, which are made up of rubber mixed with other materials.

These cheaper alternatives won’t provide enough insulation to withstand high potentials and in such cases electrocution is a given. 

Even though it is applicable not to touch live wires, it is an unavoidable thing in the electrical industry. Hence using good quality rubber gloves which are in perfect condition can indeed act as a lifesaver. 

What happens when you touch a live wire with rubber gloves?

The structure of rubber is such that the free electrons in its atoms cannot move about freely. For electricity to pass through a material it has to have free and moveable electrons to carry the charge. Rubber is an insulator and it cannot conduct electricity.

So if someone tries to touch a live wire with 100% pure rubber gloves, the charge would just remain at the interface as it can’t move through the rubber and hence would prevent the wearer from getting an electric shock. 

But rubber can become conductive if materials such as carbon etc are added to it. Hence while dealing with electricity it is important to ensure that the gloves are made of pure rubber. 

Dos and Don’ts while using rubber gloves 

Dealing with electricity is indeed an extremely risky business and one ought to make sure to take these precautions while using rubber gloves. 

→ Make sure that the gloves does not have a hole/ tear/ puncture. Any of these can actually expose your skin to electricity and can get you electrocuted. 

→ If you are working in situations where there is ozone presence, do go for ozone resistant type II gloves. If the gloves do have ozone cutting or cracks due to ozone, replace them immediately. 

→ Always look for embedded objects in the gloves. Such materials can be conducting and could allow the flow of electric current through the glove. 

→ Always look for any changes in the texture of the gloves. Make sure that there is no swelling or stretching of the rubber of the glove. 

→ Always try out air checking if you have any doubt about the safety of the gloves. Fill the glove with air, either manually or with a pump, and look for any punctures or holes 

→ Do not roll the sleeves of the gloves as it can cause tears or thinning of the rubber. 

Rubber gloves Vs Other gloves 

The most common alternative to rubber gloves are leather gloves. But leather gloves are not that comfortable while working in warm conditions as they induce a lot of sweating, which can be really uncomfortable.

Leather gloves also tend to be not that easy to maintain or clean as well. Leather gloves are not really fire retardant and hence the wearer has to be extremely cautious around fires. 

Synthetic leather gloves are also quite common in the market. But they are more prone to cuts and tears, especially around the fingertips. 

Gloves made of synthetic fibres such as polyethylene blends or multifoams are also popular alternatives available in the market.

The faults with water resistance of these materials make them much less desirable as they make working in humid conditions a real nightmare and would take ages to dry after washing. These synthetic fibres are much more stiff and hence not as comfortable as rubber gloves. 

How to prevent electrical accidents? 

Even though a good rubber glove could keep you safe while dealing with electricity, it is best to be cautious and careful to avoid any mishaps at your workplace. Follow these rules to ensure the safety of others as well as yourself at your workplace.  

Inspect wiring of equipment before use. 

Make sure there are no water or chemical spills on or near the equipment. 

Make sure that the conducting surfaces of wires are sealed and not exposed 

Limit use of extension chords 

Disconnect power source before servicing or repairing

Work with one hand instead of two, as it prevents the electric current from passing through the chest cavity 

Do regular safety checks to ensure there are no stray wires or faulty machines 

Top 3 rubber gloves 

1.) Electrical Insulated Lineman Rubber Gloves  

Made with natural rubber, these gloves are non conductive and can withstand electric current upto 12000 volts. It is more flexible than other synthetic alternatives.

It’s dielectric properties, elasticity, durability and comfort makes it a best choice for electricians. 

2.) Class 0 High Voltage Insulated Electrical Gloves 

These eco-friendly, reusable gloves made of natural rubber ensures your safety while providing you greater comfort as you work long hours. They are suitable while dealing with low power lines as they can withstand about 1200 volts. 

3.) Class 2 Lineman Rubber Gloves 

These durable, 100% pure rubber gloves have an ergonomic shape that ensures that the wearer is not worn out by fatigue and chaffing. These gloves have been tested under 20kV and are apt for electricians and linemen. 

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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